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Founded by Andrew H. Green and 
Incorporated by the Legislature of 
the State of New York in 1895 







An Historical Sketch of the Indian Landmarks at Geneva, N. Y. 

By the Secretary of the 

American Scenic and Historic Preservation 




An Historical Sketch of the Indian Landmarks at Geneva, N. Y. 

By the Secretary of the American Scenic and Historic Preserva- 
tion Society. 

Just 300 years ago, two distinct branches of European civiliza- 
tion came into contact with the Indians of New York State, 
approaching from diametrically opposite directions and under 
diametrically opposite circumstances. Champlain, under com- 
mission from the King of France, entered the State from the 
north with a war party of Hurons and signalized his advent by a 
bloody conflict with the Iroquois on the shores of Lake Champlain 
in August, 1609. In September, Henry Hudson, an Englishman 
sailing under Dutch auspices, entered the river which perpetuates 
his name, and at its headwaters held a friendly feast with Ln> 
quois chiefs which remained in their traditions for 250 years. 
The radical difference in the treatment which the New York State 
Indians received at the hands of these explorers from the north 
and the south exerted a powerful influence in predisposing them 
in. favor of the Dutch and English pioneers and in preventing the 
French from obtaining a permanent foothold in the State of New 

The Iroquois played such a prominent part in the history of the 
State during the ensuing 175 years, that at this Tercentenary 
period every item of history and tradition about the aborigines 
Possesses a peculiar interest, and one of the valuable results 
expected to be produced by the Lake Champlain Tercentenary 

and the Hudson River Tereenterary celebrations this year is the 


208 Ameiucax Scenic a:ct> Kistoklc Peesebvatio:* Society 


identification of sites and the preservation of monuments and 
relics of the " first families " of New York. 

During the past year, the American Scenic and Historic 
Preservation Society has caused a survey to be made for the pur- 
pose of locating with precision the site of the ancient Seneca 
castle of Kanadesaga and certain other Indian landmarks at 
Geneva, N. Y. (see page 111) and the purpose of the following 
pages is to recall something of the history which invests those 
landmarks with interest.' 54 ' 

Three hundred years ago, the territory of the Seneca Nation 
was hounded on the North by Lake Ontario, on the east by a line 
about midway between Seneca and Cayuga lakes, on the south by 
an indefinite line varying from twenty to thirty miles north of 
the Pennsylvania border, and on the west by the Genesee river. 
Later, upon the expulsion of the Neuter and Erie Indians from the 
region west of the Genesee, the domain of the Senecas embraced all 
of New York State west of a north-and-south line just east of 
Seneca lake. 

Kanadesaga, the last capital of the Senecas, was situated about 
west-northwest of the northwestern bend of the foot of Seneca 
lake, 1.8 miles from the shore, on a sightly elevation of 160 feet 
above the level of the lake. Its site is just west of the State Agri- 
cultural Experiment Station and adjacent to the city of Geneva, 
at a point more particularly indicated on the map accompanying 
this paper. Its location here was the result of a chain of events 
beginning with the invasion of New York by the Marquis de 
Denonville, Governor of Canada, in 1687. 

* In the preparation of these pages, the writer has found a mine of infor- 
mation in a valuable collation of quotations and original notes made by Mr. 
George S. C'onover, of Geneva, entitled "Kanadesaga; or Geneva." Of these 
data Mr. Conover prepared five copies, and presented one each to Hobart 
College, Geneva, the Buffalo Historical Society, the State Library at Albany, 
the Waterloo Library and Historical Society and the New York Historical 

Fourteenth Ay X ual Retort. 269 

The Marquis de Denonville's Invasion. 

Denonville's invasion was incident to the desperate effort which 
the French were making at that time to countervail the successes 
of their English rivals and to restore the lost prestige of the French 
with the Iroquois. By superior inducements the English traders 
had secured through the Iroquois so much of the fur trade of the 
Great Lakes that Canada was on the verge of ruin. The French 
missionaries had been almost completely driven out of the Iro- 
quois villages. And in 1686, the Iroquois had attacked the 
Hurons and Ottawa?, called by the French " our most antient 
subjects," also the Illinois and Miami Indians on the Illinois. 
" The Senecas and English understand each other charmingly,''' 
said Denonville. The situation was such that the French con- 
sidered that the French religion, commerce, and power over all 
North America depended upon the destruction of the Iroquois. 

With that end in view, Denonville, with about 1,000 French 
troops and 2,000 Huron, Illinois and Ottawa Indians, landed at 
Irondequoit Bay in July, 1687, and after erecting a fort, marched 
south into the Seneca country. The Seneca Nation, numbering 
about 4,000 souls* resided chiefly in four villages named Gan- 
nagaro, Gannogarae, Totiakton and Gannondata. 

Gannagaro (the village ancestor of Kanadesaga), was the 
capital town, situated on Boughton Hill, a mile south of the vil- 
lage of Victor in Ontario county. This Indian village, whose 
name was variously spelled, was the " St. James " of the mis- 

" Half a league distant from the said village of Gannagaro " — ■ 
in which direction the documents do not say — there was a fort, 
" very advantageously situated on a hill." 

Gannogarae was located at different dates from one and one-half 
to four miles south of the capital town. A site on the east side 

* It is difficult to estimate accurately the population of the Senecas at this 
time. Denonville put it at 14,000 or 15,000, which was about the population 
of the whole Confederacy at that time. As the Senecas mustered 800 warriors, 
their population, reckoned on the basis of 1 to 5, would be about 4,000. 

270 American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society 

of Mud creek on the line between the towns of Canadaigua and 
East Bloomfield, about five miles southeast of Victor, appears to 
have been one site of this village. This village was also known as 
St. Michael. 

Gannagaro and Gannogarae were the two eastern villages. 

Totiakton, the most populous, was ten miles west of Gannagaro 
near West Mendon in Monroe county. It was in the northeastern- 
most bend of Honeoye creek, one and three-fourths miles north 
of Honeoye Falls, exactly twelve and one-half miles in an air 
line south of the center of Rochester. Its missionary name was 
La Conception. 

Gannondata (or St. John) was probably on the site of the 
present village of Lima, five miles south of the great town, when 
the latter was located near Honeoye Falls. 

As Denonville's army advanced toward these villages, he met 
with some resistance from 800 Seneca warriors; but the latter, 
finding resistance useless, retreated, burning their villages behind 
them. Denonville completed the destruction by burning their 
corn; and having made proclamation at Totiakton on July 19 
asserting the sovereignty of the King of France, retired to Canada, 
leaving the Seneca country desolate. 

Village Migration and Change of Trail. 

After this disastrous visitation, the people of the two eastern 
villages migrated eastward and those of the two western villages 
westward and established new habitations. In 1700, Col. Romer 
found the Boughton Hill people re-established on what is known as 
the White Springs Farm, lying on the western border of the present 
city of Geneva. This settlement was known as Gancchstage. 
In 1720, they were visited here by Schuyler and Livingston and 
in 1726 by Capt. Evert Bancker. 

The change of residence among the Senecas caused a correspond- 
ing change in the direction of the ancient trail which led from the 
Hudson river through the Confederacy to Lake Erie. Prior to 

Fourteenth Annual Report. 27l 

the dispersion of the villages by Denonville, the main trail, after 
passing around the foot of Seneca lake, took a northwesterly course 
through what are now known as Loomis' Woods, and thence con- 
tinued to the principal village. 

In Loomis' Woods, there was in former times a heap of stones 
which was undoubtedly a trail mark. It was situated about 
twenty rods north of North street and about 100 rods west of the 
Carter road. Mr. Henry H. Loomis (now ninety-two years of 
age) says that his father, who was one of the earliest settlers, often 
told him never to allow these stones to be moved, as they had been 
placed there originally by the Indians to mark the line of the trail. 
When the Indians built their new village at G-anechstage, the 
trail, after coming around the foot of the lake, instead of continu- 
ing northwestward as before described, was changed to a southerly 
direction along the west shore of the lake. After passing the foot 
of the present Washington street, it ascended the bluff, took a 
westerly direction approximately along the line of Hamilton 
street and continued to Canadaigua. This trail passed a short 
distance to the north of Ganechstage, the White Springs being 
about one-half mile south of the trail. The old turnpike was laid 
out substantially along this trail from the Old Pre-emption road 
to Canandaigua. Near the Old Pre-emption road, another trail 
branched off to the southwestward and passed through Ferguson's 
Corners, thence to Conhocton, whence the voyager could travel by 
canoe down the Conhocton to the Chemung and Susquehanna. 
The present highway running southwesterly from the Old Pre- 
emption road is substantially on this trail. 

Ganechstage, the White Springs Settlement. 

Ganechstage, the settlement at White Springs, continued until 
1732, when it suffered terribly from smallpox brought by a Seneca 
from Albany. After the death of a large number of inhabitants, 
the survivors moved to Burrell creek, or Slate Pock creek, two 
and three-fourths miles southwest of the White Springs. 

272' American Scenic and Historic Preservation Sooiet 

In the journal of the Moravian missionaries Bishop Camme 
hoff and David Zeisberger, who made a journey through western 
New York in 1750, they speak of arriving at the abandoned site 
of Ganechstage (White Springs) on Sunday, June 17 (or 28 H 

S.). The journal says: "About four miles from the lake". 

that is, about four miles from their last previous camping place 
at the outlet — "we came into the neighborhood of the site of the 
old city of Ganechstage, which is said to have been very large. 
* * * It is a very beautiful tract of land with good springs of 
fresh water. It lies so high that we could see from here to 
Gajuka* about fifty miles distant. From what we could see it 
must have been a very large city." A few isolated huts were still 
standing in 1750. 

The White Springs farm derives its name from the beautifully 
clear springs which supply the city of Geneva with water. 

For many years it was owned by Judge John Nicholas. In 
1839 it was purchased from Robert C. Nicholas by Hon. Gideon 
Lee. The property remained in the possession of Mr. Lee's 
family until 1857 when it was purchased by the late James O. 
Sheldon, father of Mrs. Andrew H. Smith of Geneva. In 1870 it 
passed into possession of William and Thomas Smith. When the 
grounds were graded in 1842, numerous traces of the old Indian 
occupations were found. In a lane, opposite the site of the old 
carriage house now occupied by a later building, and near a tulip 
tree which is probably the tulip tree still standing, there was a 
burial mound, about three feet high, from which may skeletons 
were exhumed. 

Another burial mound was located a short distance south of 
the one above mentioned, and west of and in front of the mansion, 
from one-fourth to one-third of the distance from the road to the 
house. This knoll was about four feet high and yielded many 
skeletons. As the bottom of the ossuary was not reached in the 

* Cayuga. 


Jj oc a. ijo n 

Landmark Map of Geneva (N. Y.) and Vicinity. 
The above is a substantial copy of an old map drawn on page 746 of volume 
III of George S. Conover's manuscript and scrap-book history of " Kanadesaga 
and Geneva " in the library of Hobart College, Geneva. It shows the relative 
location of Kanadesaga, Ganechstage and Xew Ganechstage. Geneva has 
grown materially since the original, which is not dated, was drawn. 

Fourteenth Annual Report. 273 

grading, there are doubtless bones of the " first families " still 
interred there. 

There are in the lawn gentle elevations of ground which strongly 
indicate other burial places. 

Inquiry years ago among citizens conversant with the work and 
the workmen themselves elicited many interesting facts about these 
sites. Most of the bones taken from them appeared to have been 
those of adults and of a good sized race. In one or two instances 
they were of extraordinary size. It is estimated that four or five 
wagon-loads of bones and skulls, perhaps more, were removed, 
deposited in low places in the neighborhood and covered up. 

Some degree of order appears to have been observed by the 
Indians in making these burials. Some of the bodies were buried 
in a sitting position and covered with a sandy loam brought from 
a distance, the natural formation at that point being a gravelly 
clay soil. 

It is probable that many of these Indians died of the smallpox 
epidemic in 1732 ; and the plague having been recalled at the 
time of the exhumation, fear of contagion caused many of the 
workmen to handle the remains with greater care than appears to 
have proceeded from any respect for the memory of the dead. 

Among the relics exhumed with the skeletons were many copper 
and brass kettles, varying in capacity from two to eight quarts. 
Some were full of holes * but others were in a state of such good 
preservation as to be used by their finders for many years. Some 
of the smaller vessels appeared to have contained red paint. 
Others evidently contained food. In some cases, the form of grains 
of corn was easily recognized. These kettles were so numerous and 
so little prized at the time that a boy was permitted to take several 
wheel-barrow loads of them and sell them for the metal that was 
in them. 

Arrowheads of flint and copper were also exhumed. The copper 
arrowheads were triangular in shape, about two inches long and 

* Squier says that it was customary for the Indians to puncture vessels 
buried with the dead to prevent their being stolen for use again. 

274 American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society 

three-quarters of an inch wide. One of the copper points -was 
found attached to part of a shaft, showing the manner of attach- 
ment. The point had been inserted in an opening in the end 
of the shaft and fastened by a piece of deer sinew running through 
the holes and around the shaft. 

Gun-barrels, to the number of two dozen at least, were found. 
The barrels were badly rusted and the stocks badly decayed. 

At least two dozen crosses are known to have been found, and 
doubtless many more were carried away by visitors. The cruci- 
fixes varied in size and character. One was made of brass, two 
inches long by one and one-half wide, the arms being one-quarter 
of an inch wide. On one side was represented the crucified 
Savior with a skull and crossbones under his feet and above the 
halo over his head the letters 1 1ST R I. On the other side was 
represented the Virgin Mary being crowned by two angels and 
overshadowed by the emblems of the Holy Ghost. 

Another relic was an iron pipe, tubular in shape, narrowing 
toward the bottom. On the bottom was a screw by which it was 
once attached to a tomahawk. 

Tomahawks, iron axes, stone axes, stone implements, pestles, 
pipes of many devices made from black, gray, brown and red stone 
and pottery, finger rings of copper, medals, earrings with religious 
devices, large quantities of beads, and trinkets made from red 
pipe-stone were also found. The iron axes were of the type intro- 
duced by the European traders and found extensively in the east- 
ern states. They were wider at the edge than at the back, with 
an eye or hole for the handle at the back. One of these axes 
bore the fabricator's mark of the " three Dutch crosses." In 1667, 
Peter Stuyvesant referred to the use of hatchets in trade when he 
wrote to the Duke of York: " The trade of beaver (the most de- 
sirable commodity for Europe) hath allways been purchased from 
the Indyans by the Commodities brought from Holland, as 
Camper, Duffles, Hatchetts and other Iron worke made at Utrick & 
much esteemed by the natives." 

Fourteenth Annual Report. 275 

During the ownership of Mr. Sheldon, while excavations were 
being made for the foundation of some new barns, Mr. Sheldon 
came upon some Indian graves in which were found various im- 
plements of war and articles of personal adornment. In a girl's 
grave were a jar of paint, many curious heads an a carved comb. 
In another were found a crucifix, a small cross and the heads of a 
rosary with the bones of a man, possibly those of a martyred mis- 
sionary. By far the most interesting thing found was a curiously 
carved stone calumet. Unfortunately, this was broken in many 
pieces by the laborers in their efforts to learn its nature and 
composition. Since Mr. Lewis, the present owner of the White 
Springs farm, has occupied the place, a deputation from the 
Seneca Nation has called upon him to inquire if he would respect 
the graves of their fathers, which he gladly promised to do. 

New Ganechstage at Burrell Creek. 
The settlement in the neighborhood of Slate Rock Creek, or 
Burrell Creek, two and three-fourths miles southwest of White 
Springs, to which the survivors of the epidemic at Ganechstage 
moved in 1732, was called New Ganechstage. It appears to have 
been located on the so-called Reed farm in the southwestern part of 
Lot 32. While the name New Ganechstage implies that the vil- 
lage on Burrell Creek was a transplanting of Ganechstage from 
White Springs, jet there is something to suggest that some of their 
tribal brethren had already made their habitations there. 

Contemporaneously with the migration of the people of Ganna- 
garo from Boughton Hill to the White Springs, the people of the 
smaller eastern town of Gannogarae also moved eastward. It is 
not definitely known whether they also moved in a body to Ganech- 
stage (White Springs) or some other place. It appears probable 
that a part of them, at least, settled in the neighborhood of Burrell 
Creek and that the fugitives from Ganechstage in 1732 fled, not 
to virgin fields, but to the cabins of their brethren. When visited 
in 1750 by the Moravian missionaries, New Ganechstage contained 
' only eight or .nine huts," but the domestic long-house of the 

276 American Scenic and Historic Peeservation Society 

Iroquois was often of great length, and it is probable that each 
of these houses contained several families. The leading citizen of 
New Ganechstage in 1750 was Gajinquechto or Sayenqueraghta 
who is mentioned in the Moravian journal as being a chief who had 
a big house. Sayenqueraghta was of the Turtle Clan and after- 
ward head chief or king of the Senecas at the new settlement vil- 
lage of Kanadesaga on Castle Brook, 

New Ganechstage appears to have flourished for about twenty- 
years or more — long enough for the formation of an extensive 
burial ground, where many relics of all kinds were found in 
after years. 

Between 1750 and 1756, New Ganechstage was abandoned and 
a new eettlement made about two miles north of White Springs 
on what was later called Castle Brook. This last settlement was 
called Kanadesaga and was the last capital of the Senecas. The 
cause of the removal of the village is not definitely known but 
may be surmised. The Iroquois village, built of bent saplings 
covered with bark, was not, like the substantial pueblos of the 
southwestern Indians, a permanent seat; and when the inhabitants 
had exhausted the fire wood supply within a convenient radius, or 
when the soil had become exhausted by repeated crops of com 
without fertilization ; or when their bark cabins became infested 
with vermin, it was easier for them to move to new pastures and 
build a new village than to cart their firewood and corn crops a 
longer distance. For this reason, the Iroquois villages frequently 
changed their sites, and it is not unlikely that such a motive led 
the people of New Ganechstage to the fertile fields north of Castle- 

The evidence that the removal to the latter site occurred between 
1750 and 1756 is to be found in two facts: The first is that when 
Cammerhoff and Zeisberger visited the Seneca country in 1750, 
they made no mention of any village on Castle Brook, although 
they spoke of the abandoned site of Ganechstage and of the in- 
habited village of New Ganechstage. If such an important village 
as Kanadesaga had existed on Castle Brook at that time, the trait 

Fourteenth Axxual Kepoet. 


leading thereto and the village itself could not have escaped the 
notice of the Moravian travelers. The fact which fixes 1756 as 
the second of the two dates between which the settlement was 
effected is established by the fact that the fortification or castle 
was erected there by Sir Wm. Johnson's men in that year. 

The Name Kanadesaga. 
The name Kanadesaga which signifies " new settlement vil- 
lage " appears in the printed records in a bewildering variety of 
forms. It is spelled : 


Canada Saga 

















Can ad os ago 








































































278 American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society 

Some authors believe that these are all variants of the name of 
the earlier village which the Moravians endeavored to express i& 
the orthography Ganechstage and Ganechsatage. 

The name Kanadesaga, in the various Iroquois dialects, is givea 
by Lewis H. Morgan as follows : 

Seneca : Ga-nun-da-sa'ga 
Cayuga: Ga-na-da-sa'ga 
Onondaga : Ga-na-da-sa'ga 
Tuscarora: Ota-na-sa'ga 
Oneida: Ga-na-da'sage 
Mohawk : Ga-na-da-sage' 

The variety of spelling is not to be wondered at when we take 
into consideration, in the first place, the fact that each of the Six 
Nations had a different dialect and each clan had dialectical dif- 
ferences; and in the second place, the fact that these different 
original pronunciations have been heard by ears attuned to four 
European languages — Dutch, English, German and French — 
and are interpreted in their diverse phonetic equivalents. Doubt- 
less, also, some of the variations are due to the erroneous trans- 
lation of obscure chirography into printer's types. Printed litera- 
ture was comparatively rare in Colonial days, and the art of ortho- 
graphic representation of Indian words had not the powerful 
auxiliary of frequent printing to give it stability. 

Out of all these variations, most modern authors have adopted 
the spelling Kanadesaga, in which all of the " a's " have the broad 
sound as in " father." The principal accent is on the next to the 
last syllable. But for the fact that " Kanadesaga " has been so 
generally adopted by previous writers and already has its fixed 
place in literature, the present writer would, as a matter of pro- 
priety, prefer the Seneca form of " Ganundasaga," in agreement 
with the learned Dr. Morgan, who in 1880 wrote: " The Seneca 
Indians still call Geneva by the name of their own village of 
Ganundasaga near its site. It would be slightly different in the 
Mohawk dialect which differs but little from the Oneida. Kan- 
adesaga is not probably the pure Mohawk form of the word, but as 

Fourteenth Annual Report. 279 

near as the early settlers could pronounce it. Still, as it was a 
Seneca village, and the name is still used by them, I think it would 
have been better to follow them if it was considered important 
to have the exact name." 

The name of an Indian town not only applied to the cluster 
of cabins located in a particular place, but also to the adjacent 
country. The isolated cabins of a single village sometimes ex- 
tended over a territory of two or three miles. The name of Kana- 
desaga therefore was applied not only to the village, but also to 
the brook upon which it was located, to the territory between the 
village and the lake, to the lake and to the outlet of the lake. 

The Building of Kanadesaga Castle. 

The numerous references in contemporary documents to the 
capital nature of Kanadesaga can leave no doubt as to the dis- 
tinction which followed the people of Gannagaro to the intermedi- 
ate sites of Ganechstage (White Springs) and New Ganechstage 
(Burrell Creek) until they collected on Castle Brook. The resi- 
dence of Sayenqueraghta, the head sachem of the Senecas, at Ka- 
nadesga is a further indication of its dominant position in the 
nation ; and the fact that Sir William Johnson selected this village 
as the place for the erection of a large stockade, or castle, is the 
concluding evidence of its political pre-eminence. 

The building of a castle in the Seneca country had been recom- 
mended by Johnson as early as 1747 — before the migration to 
Castle Brook. At a meeting of a committee of the Governor's 
Council in New York city, October 3, 1747, Col. Johnson ex- 
pressed the opinion that the Indians would be greatly encouraged 
at that time if two forts were erected speedily, one in the Senecas* 
country and one in the Oneidas'. This recommendation was not 
acted upon, however, until after Kanadesaga had been settled on 
its final site. 

At a Congress of commissioners of the provinces of New York, 
New Haven, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsyl- 

280 American Scenic axd Historic Preservation Society. 

vania and Maryland, held at Albany, June 19, 1754, the project 
was revived during the consideration of the subject of securing the 
Six Nations to the British interests. The Indian situation at that 
time was far from satisfactory to the British. The Indians were 
much scattered, and the provincial authorities felt the need of caus- 
ing them to dwell together in their castles for the strength that it 
would give them. Furthermore, they felt the need of counteract- 
ing the zealous labors of the Trench missionaries to win the Iro- 
quois away from their allegiance to the British government. In 
1749, Abbe Picquet had established a successful Iroquois colony 
at Swegache, on the site of Ogdensburg, on the St. Lawrence river, 
and this had drawn from the Six Nations, more particularly the 
Onondagas, so rapidly that in 1754, at the time of the Albany 
Congress, the inhabitants of their three villages near Swegache 
were estimated by the French to number no less than 3,000. This 
was a serious depletion of the Indian population belonging prop- 
erly to the British jurisdiction. Furthermore, the French were 
now making an earnest effort to prevail on the Senecas, who were 
accounted the most numerous nation, to come and settle at Ironde- 
quoit in order to have them nearer to the French settlements and 
thus subject them the more easily to French influence; and the 
Senecas were wavering. The Indian Commissioners therefore 
recommended to Lieutenant-Governor De Lancey that he should 
insist that the Senecas, who were then living very remote from 
one another, should make a general castle near the Seneca river 
where they had already begun to build a new castle. 

On September 12, 1754, the Commissioners of Indian Affairs 
wrote to Governor De Lancey with a view to hiring Myndert Wemp 
to go with Mr. TVendle, John Rensselaer's nephew, to the Senecas' 
country, remarking that " he will go if he can take one of his 
sons who speaks Indian and do smith's work. No carpenter will 
undertake to build the fort on the credit of the Government." Such 
an arrangement was made with Wemp, eventually, but not until 
after a long delay. Meanwhile, on July 21, 1755, Sir William 

Fourteenth Annual Eeport. 281 

Johnson renewed to the Lords of Trade the recommendation that 
forts be built in the Indian country, to be properly garrisoned, 
provided with gunsmiths and armorers, and that a trading place 
be established in or near the forts where the Indians could obtain 
all necessary commodities. He deprecated, however, the sale of 
intoxicating liquors. 

While making these recommendations to the various authorities, 
Johnson, with his extraordinary influence, brought the Senecas 
into such a frame of mind that they themselves desired the build- 
ing of a fort. On March 7, 1756, a meeting of Seneca sachems was 
held at Fort Johnson on their way home from a council at Albany. 
Sir "William's Journal says : 

"Tagighsady, the greatest sachem of their nation, rose up 
and spoke : Brother Warraghiyagey: We hope you will, 
as soon as the season admits of it, send good men to build the fort 
for us, for we are in a very bad situation at present, having such 
bad neighbors as the French near us." 

To this Sir William replied : " You may depend upon my send- 
ing men to build a fort for your protection as soon as possible." 

Whereupon the Seneca sachem replied : " We return you thanks 
for the assurance you give us of sending up workmen to build a 
fort for our protection." 

In a letter dated the next day, March 8, 1756, Sir William 
wrote to the Lords of Trade : " The chiefs of the Seneca Nation 
desired that they might have a fort built in their country which I 
promised them, well knowing it will be the means of keeping out 
French emissaries from among them and settling their former 
wavering disposition." 

Sir William could not at once send the necessary party to build 
the fort, but he sent Myndert Wemp and his son ahead to remain 
with the Senecas and, as it were, pre-empt the ground from the 
French. On March 26, 1756, he wrote to Wemp advising him 
to remain there until the end of May or the first of June, or until 
the corn was a foot high, and to do all the work for the Indians 

282 American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society 

that they wanted. Above all, he was to suffer no French emissaries 
to come among the Indians " as it might greatly hurt His Ma- 
jesty's interest with that nation to have such come among them." 

Unfortunately, the Indians were suffering from a scarcity of 
corn, and for that reason, Wemp and his son had to leave them, 
and on April 29 returned to Fort Johnson. Meanwhile Sir Wil- 
liam sent them two boatloads of corn to relieve their distress. 

Wemp reported to Sir William that the Senecas were greatly 
pleased with his promise to build a fort for them and hoped that 
he would do so speedily. They also desired that when the fort was 
built, some of Wemp's sons would reside there, as they understood 
the Seneca language and were smiths. 

The building of the fort was not much longer delayed. On 
April 21, Sir William sent a party to the Oneidas to build a fort 
there; on April 30 to the Onondagas; and under date of Fort 
Johnson, May 28, 1756, he announced that a fort was building 
in the Senecas' country as well as at the other two places. 

While we have not the plans and specifications according to 
which the castle of Kanadesaga was built, we are able to arrive 
at its plan from the physical remains which were traceable years 
ago, and can gain an idea of its details from the specifications on 
record concerning other Indian forts. 

The Onondaga fort was a stockade 100 feet square. The stock- 
ades were fifteen feet long, which sunk into the ground to a depth 
of three feet and were well pounded and rammed. The touching 
sides of the stockades were squared so as to fit together closely. 
Loopholes were made four feet apart. The fort had two block- 
houses, the first story twenty feet square and the second story pro- 
jecting one and one-half feet over the beams, with a good sentry box 
on top of each. The fort had a good gate of 3-inch oak plank with 
iron hinges, and a small gate of oak plank of the same thickness. 

The Oneida fort differed from the Onondaga fort in propor- 
tions. It was 120 feet square and the palisadoes 16 feet long, set 
four feet in the ground. It had two blockhouses, 24 feet square. 

Fourteenth Annual Beport. 283 

Judging from the size of the Kanadesaga castle, as compared 
■with the other Indian forts, and from the size of the parties sent 
to build the latter, we may infer that Sir William sent a detach- 
ment of about thirty men and about four pairs of horses to draw 
the logs, to build the Seneca stockade. 

The work was completed about the 1st of August, 1756, and the 
workmen were safely escorted home by Seneca warriors from 
another village named Ganuskago, which stood upon the site of 
the present Dansville, in Livingston county. On August 5, 1756, 
Kindaruntie, a chief man of Ganuskago, arrived at Fort Johnson 
and told Sir William that at the request of his Kanadesaga 
brethren his village had furnished the escort and he thanked the 
white father for sending such good men. 

Sir William replied : " I approve much of your Sachem's pru- 
dence and care of their brethren in sending some of their warriors 
to guard them home, and more particularly for making so good a 
choice as of you and your party. I hope that the fort is made 
to their liking and that it may be a security to you all, your wives 
and children against any designs or attempts of your and our 
common enemy, the French, which was the only view in building 

Kindaruntie replied that it was to their liking and he did not 
doubt but it would be the means of preserving the lives of their 
old men, women and children, which assurance gave them great 

Sir William Johnson intended to have a captain's company 
stationed there and equip the stockade with two or three small 
field pieces. But no sooner was the fort built, than the Indians 
sent a delegation, with full powers from their nation, to inform 
Sir William that he need not be at the trouble of sending any 
of his troops there ; that they were abundantly sufficient to man it 
themselves — " a very decent way of forbidding him sending his 
troops," says the Kev. Mr. Kirtland.* 

* Here, as in the following pages, we have spelled Mr. Kirtland's name as it 
appears in his signed letters, although in a great deal of literature it is spelled 

284 American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society 

Village Life in Kanadesaga. 

From fragments of information gathered from the writings off 
travelers and captives, official documents and archaeological tracea 
of the ruins of Kanadesaga, we are able to bring back to our mind's, 
eye with reasonable clearness a picture of the Seneca capital in 
its principal outlines. 

The fortification of Kanadesaga was a stockade, approximately- 
rectangular in shape, and about twice as long north and south as 
it was wide. Its north wall was about 102% feet* long; its east 
wall 180 feet; its south wall 105 feet; and its west wall 207 1 /2 

Its north wall was 550 feet south of the Old Castle road or 
North street. Its northeast corner was about ninety feet from 
the Old Pre-emption road and its southeast corner about seventy 
feet. The walls were about twelve feet high, made of the trunks 
of trees set up vertically in the ground and perforated at inter- 
vals of four feet with loopholes for rifles. At the northern end of 
the west wall there was a bastion-like projection, about ten feet 
square, flanking that wall, and a similar construction at the south- 
ern end of the east wall, commanding that side. The stockade had 
at least one blockhouse — for the missionary, Kirtlancl, lived in 
it- — • and one of Sullivan's soldiers in 1779 heard of two or three. 
There were probably two, one on. the northwest corner and on© 
on the southeast corner. 

The ground on which the fort was built sloped toward the south, 
and close by the southwest corner ran Kanadesaga or Castle Brook. 
In the south wall, near the southwest corner, was the principal gate- 

* These figures are based on dimensions given in paces of 2% feet each in a 
plan made by Lewis H. Morgan in 1845, and must be regarded as approximate. 
In the Smithsonian Institution's " Contributions to Knowledge" (1851), E. G. 
Squier gives a plan on which he indicates only the length of the east side, 
which he makes 1!)8 feet, or 10 per cent. longer than Morgan makes it. If this 
ratio of difference holds with the other dimensions, they would be as follows: 
North wall, 112% feet; west wall, 228% feet, and south wall, 115 1 {. feet. 


way, giving ready access to the brook.* Within the stockade were 
a few buildings. In the northeast and northwest corners of the 
enclosure were stone chimneys — ■ one probably used as a forge and 
the other as an oven. 

Surrounding the stockade was the village, almost circular in 
form, about 100 rods in diameter, and laid out with some degree of 
regularity. It consisted of seventy or eighty houses, generally 
built of saplings covered with bark after the Indian fashion. A 
few houses were of hewn logs and some of round logs. Chief 
among these buildings in size and importance, was the Council 
House, which was also used on occasions as a chapel. 

Close by the village on the west was an extensive apple orchard, 
and about half a mile north of the town was a large peach orchard. 
Wild plums, mulberries, hickory nuts, walnuts and butternuts also 
grew in abundance. In and near the village were great plantations 
of corn, the staple of Indian diet. Intermingled with the corn and 
growing in separate patches were beans, peas, squashes, onions, 
turnips, cabbages, cucumbers, watermelons, carrots and parsnips. 
To these luxuries of the vegetable kingdom, most of which had 
been introduced by the white men, were added two from the animal 
kingdom — a few horses and cattle. In the adjacent forests, bear, 
deer, and other wild animals abounded and in season contributed 
to the subsistence of the villagers; while the lake yielded fish in 

Here, for about a quarter of a century, Kanadesaga, with its 
population of nearly 1,000 f inhabitants bustled with life and 
activity. Here the natives cultivated and harvested their fields, 

* This water-course is now dry most of the time. The precise location of 
the fort is shown on the accompanying map, embodying the results of a 
survey made expressly for the American Scenic and Historic Preservation 

t Taking the largest number of houses mentioned in the records, and 
assuming that they were all single houses with the capacity of eight persons, 
the population would have been about 040. But usually the houses were 
longer and contained more than one fire; and it seems probable that in its 
most flourishing state Kanadesaga contained nearly 1.000 persons. 

286 American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society 

and pounded their corn into meal for bread. Hence they went 
with bow and stone-tipped arrow into the forest or with spear to 
the lake side, and hither they returned with bear or deer on their 
shoulders or fish in their hands. Here gathered the clans in 
council when affairs of national importance were to be considered* 
From this point they went forth on the warpath, perhaps to the 
distant regions of the west, perhaps to the border settlements of the- 
east, and back to this capital they came, with scalps, captives and 
plunder. Here they had their rejoicings and sorrowings and here 
they buried their dead, whose bones still rest in the soil of Kana- 

While, in the history of their relations with the white men 
during this quarter century, there is much to shock, there is also- 
much to enlist sympathy. If they had had to deal only with the 
colonists of New York State their record would have been very 
different; but involved as a third party first in the war between 
Great Britain and France, and later in the war between Great 
Britain and the United States, it is not to be wondered at that 
they were persuaded by evil counsels to commit some of the atroci- 
ties to which their untamed natures too readily predisposed them* 

The French and Indian War. 
The policy of the English in erecting a fort at Kanadesaga 
appears to have been successful in securing at least the eastern 
Seneca villages to the English interests during the Erench and 
Indian war. At the close of the war, at a meeting of Indians 
held at Johnson Hall on September 9, 1763, Sir William Johnson 
was assured of the friendliness of the eastern Seneca villages and 
September 14, he wrote to Sir Jeffrey Amherst: 

" The Seneca villages called Kanadessegy and Canadasaggo are 
said to be in our interest, for which reason the Indians appear very 
desirous that they might be continued amongst the number of 
our friends, as they have not committed hostilities and that they 
had given assurance to the Indians of these villages that they 

Fourteenth Annual Report. 287 

would endeavor to make their peace with the English, which pre- 
vented our acting against them." 

Amherst replied from New York on September 30 that he was 
glad to treat the " two castles Kanadasegy and Canadaraggo " 
as friends, and ordered that in any operation that might be carried 
on against the Senecas the Indians of these two castles were not 
to be molested. 

On November 13, 1763, Sir William wrote to the Lords of 
Trade in England that of the Six Nations, all but the Senecas 
remained friendly, and that of the Senecas, two villages, namely, 
" Kanadasegey and Kanadaraygo " were friendly, and in his 
enumeration of the Indians November 18, he remarked that of the 
Senecas, two villages were still in their interest, viz., " Kanadasero 
and Kanadaragey," the rest having joined the western nations. 

In the foregoing allusions, we can recognize in the variegated 
spelling the names of the two villages of Canandaigua and Kana- 

On April 3, 1764, preliminary articles of peace were concluded 
wdth the Seneca Indians at Johnson Hall, and were signed by Sir 
William Johnson and eight sachems. The latter, of course, could 
not write. Their names were therefore plainly written, appar- 
ently in Sir William's handwriting, and to each name respectively 
the sachems affixed their totem signs. Among the eight sachems 
attesting the articles was Sayenqueraghta of Kanadesaga, to whose 
name is affixed the sign of the turtle. Sayenqueraghta had just- 
succeeded to the headship of the Senecas upon the death of Sagech- 

The Rev. Samuel Kirtland's Life at Kanadesaga. 

The French missionaries having now been effectually driven 
away from the Iroquois, considerations of both Christianity and 
political policy dictated that their place should be promptly sup- 
plied by English missionaries. When, therefore, in 1764, the Rev- 

288 American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society. 

Samuel Kirtland,* eager to learn the native language of the Iro- 
quois so as to facilitate his religious work among them and to 
enable him to teach their boys, proposed to take up his residence 
among them, he was cordially encouraged by Sir William Johnson. 
In October of that year, the Rev. Dr. Eleazar Wheelock, who had 
an Indian school at Lebanon, Conn., gave Mr. Kirtland a letter 
of introduction to Sir William Johnson, and he set out for Port 
Johnson, accompanied by an educated Delaware Indian named 
Joseph Woolley. The letter stated that the bearers desired to 
learn the Seneca and Mohawk languages and teach among those 
nations ; also, if possible, to procure a number of Indian youths 
for the school at Lebanon. 

Presenting himself at Johnson Hall, Mr. Kirtland was received 
with much courtesy by the great and influential Indian agent. On 
January 17, 1765, he departed for the west, accompanied by two 
Indian guides who bore a message from Sir William commending 
him to the friendly consideration of the Senecas at Kanadesaga. 
On February 7, they arrived at Kanadesaga, which Mr. Kirtland 
called " their princijjal town this side of Genesee." According to 
Indian custom, his journal continues, " we halted at the skirts of 
the town, sat down on a log to rest and lighted our pipes. 
Presently a runner was dispatched from the town and came in full 
speed to us and asked whence we came and where we were going 
and what was our desire. One of the convoy answered, we were 
only bound to this place and wished to be conducted to the house 
of the chief sachem. He then told us to follow him and we soon 
entered the chief sachem's house and were cordially received." 

His host was Sayenqueraghta. That night, Mr. Kirtland slept 
in a bunk on one side of the room in the sachem's house. 

The next day, the sachems and head warriers were assembled in 
the Council House, where Mr. Kirtland delivered Sir William 

* A sketch of Mr. Kirtland's life by his grandson, the Rev. S. K. Lathrop, 
will be found in Sparks' American Biography, 2d series, XV. As stated on a 
previous page, although Mr. Kirtland's name is frequently spelled " Kirk- 
land," we have adhered to the form in which it appears signed to his letters. 

Fourteenth Annual Eepokt. 289 

Johnson's message accompanied by a wampum belt. The message 
was received with great applause, except by a small minority. 
Sayenqueraghta made a " very handsome and animated reply " 
and then handed the wampum belt to the chief who sat next to 
him. Thus the belt was passed around the whole circle. " Some," 
says Mr. Kirtland, " would strike it up and down with the hand 
and perhaps make some remarks; others would look upon it 
apparently with an intenseness of thought and not open their lips, 
and then pass it to the next," The missionary, new to Indian 
customs, perhaps did not realize the iiaportance of this belt cere- 
mony which lasted twenty minutes by his watch. The men who 
gazed at it so steadfastly were probably memorizing its appear- 
ance, as belts of this sort were mnemonic tokens of official trans- 
actions and were often produced as evidence of them. 

Mr. Kirtland was adopted into the sachem's family and pro- 
claimed to be a brother to all the other inhabitants. He was then 
quartered with one of the families of the village. On the fourth 
night of his residence with this family the head of the family died 
suddenly. This caused great excitement, not only in Kanadesaga 
but also in the neighboring villages to which runners were imme- 
diately sent, and many of the Indians regarded the white man with 
suspicion as the cause. 

Three days later the funeral was held in the Council House. 
The house was crowded with men. The body was neatly dressed 
in a clean white shirt, a black shroud blanket, scarlet leggings, new 
mocassins and was curiously painted, and laid in a coffin. The 
dead man's pipe, tomahawk, tobacco pouch, flint, steel and punk, 
Were placed on both sides of his head in the coffin. From the 
Council House, the remains were followed to the grave by about 
150 women and girls, but by no men except the bearers, the grave 
digger and Mr. Kirtland. When they left the Council House, 
some sang a mournful song and marched to its rhythm ; while 
others " screamed and veiled like doa;s." 

After the funeral a long council was held by the Indians to 

290 American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society. 

deliberate on Mr. Kirtland's fate. During this period he was con- 
ducted into the woods under pretense of shooting partridges and 
kept secluded in a sugar hut for two or three days. During this 
time, his Indian sister secretly brought him food. In the council 
a chief of some prominence known as Captain Onogwadekha 
manifested bitter enmity against the missionary and made an in- 
flammatory speech, demanding his death. After a good deal of 
discussion, in which many chiefs took part, the widow was sum- 
moned and spoke well of the white man, testifying that she found 
no magic powders among his effects. Then the head sachem made 
the closing speech, saying: 

" Bury the hatchet deep in the ground with all jealousy and 
animosity against our white brother." 

This speech silenced all further opposition and all but fifteen 
present assented to his advice. The head sachem then said : 

" Our business is done. I rake up the council fire." 

Whereupon the council broke up with a general shout of ap- 

Mr. Kirtland now returned to the village and was received with 
joy, being told that " all is now only peace." He then took up 
his residence in one of the blockhouses of the great fortified 
enclosure, with the family of his " elder brother " Tekanada. 

Among Mr. Kirtland's acquaintances in Kanadesaga was a 
Delaware Indian named Squash Cutter, who was harbored there 
for some months, " being afraid to return to his nation, lest some 
of their chiefs, who are great friends to the white people, should 
seize him and carry him a prisoner to Sir William." What 
Squash Cutter had done to make him thus afraid is not disclosed. 
Mr. Kirtland says : " Upon my first acquaintance with him he 
appeared to be jealous of me. After some time he became quite 
familiar and was very fond of conversing with me." 

The Starving Time at Kanadesaga. 
The ensuing season was one of great distress in Kanadesaga, 
partly on account of the failure of the corn crop, partly on account 

Fourteenth Annual Report. 291 

of scarcity of game, and partly because after a general meeting 
of the Senecas the Indians residing above Kanadesaga had been 
living so much on the village that the food supply was very low. 
Mr. Kirtland was reduced to such straits that white acorns fried 
in bear's grease were all he had to eat for several days. This diet 
gave him violent colic, which was not relieved until his " grand- 
mother " — the head sachem's mother — aged ninety years, gave 
him three gills of refined bear's grease. 

The danger of starvation became so imminent that Mr. Kirt- 
land, Tekanada and the latter's family started in a canoe in the 
latter part of April, 1765, for Johnson Hall. On Oneida lake,, 
they were overtaken by a hurricane, their canoe sprang a leak, and 
they could progress only with great difficulty. Tekanada, pale 
with fright, opened a squirrel skin pouch, took out some kind of 
powder* and cast two pinches of it on the water, crying out, as 
Mr. Kirtland interpreted it : " ISTow, wind, do your best. Do 
your best, I say !" 

The storm continued, however, and Tekanada besought Mr. 
Kirtland to pray to his God, which Mr. Kirtland did. Finally 
they reached the shore in safety, but as soon as their canoe touched 
the beach, it fell to pieces. Eventually they reached Johnson Hall. 
During their brief stay here, Tekanada's wife died, partly on 
account of her recent lack of nourishment and partly from ex- 
posure on the trip. 

Unknown to Mr. Kirtland and to Sayenqueraghta, some .of the 
Indians at Kanadesaga had sent a petition, accompanied by two 

* It is probable that this sacred powder was tobacco. In "A briefe and true 
report of the new found land of Virginia," by " Thomas Heriot, servant to 
Sir Walter Raleigh," it is stated that tobacco was of such precious estimation 
among the Indians " that they thinke their gods are marvellously delighted 
therewith: Whereupon sometime they make hallowed fires and cast some of 
the pouder therein for a sacrifice: being in a storme upon the waters, to 
pacifie their gods, they cast some up into the aire and into the water: so a 
weare for fish being newly set up, they cast some therein and into the aire: 
also after an escape of danger they cast some into the aire likewise." At 
Niagara Falls, it was the custom of passing Indians to throw tobacco into the 
■water as a sacrifice to the Manitou of the Falls. 

292 American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society. 

belts of wampum, to Sir William, begging for provisions for the 
women and children. Sir William listened to the appeal, and in 
May, sent Mr. Kirtland back to Ivanadesaga with a boat load of 
provisions. Mr. Kirtland arrived at the castle on May 30, 1765 
after a very fatiguing journey. His reception, however, was not 
at first very cordial, probably partly on account of the scarcity of 
of food. Writing from Kanadesaga under date of dune 17 to Sir 
William Johnson, he says : 

" I've answered ye two belts by which they demanded Provi- 
sions for ye Women & Children, Trade, &c they have made no 
return. I apprehend (they) are «, little guilty & asham'd of ye 
mean part they acted. The Sachem knew nothing of sending yt 
large belt for Provisions &c was surprised to hear of their unrea- 
sonable demands. The Sachem and others do really appear 
friendly. In general they treat me with no more respect than 
they would show to a dog — but this is equal to me. I believe a 
little more Provision than I'm like to get here will be necessary 
for my subsistence this summer. The Indians from above living 
so much upon this Town since ye general meeting has created a 
great scarcity of Provisions. I suppose there is not 3 bushels of 
indian Corn in ye Castle. When I went from hence last spring 
they were well stored. Could I have a plenty of fresh venison & 
bear's flesh I would do without bread, ye staff of Life, but to have 
little of either & ye most of yt little rotten, I think may be called 
coarse fare. 

It was said in ye ancient puritannick times, yt man should not 
live by bread alone ■ — ■ The modern ages, it seems, have degene- 
rated, -especially in these parts, for we are like to be denied any 
bread at all. 

I design (god willing) to be down about twenty days from 
hence. I've wrote desiring Capt. Butler to make ready Provision 
for me against my arrival, your Excellency approving ye same. I 
don't doubt but Revd. Mr. Wheelock would think it expedient. It 
will be to ye credit of ye Design, as well as my comfort & sup- 
port. Tho' success in my present undertaking be uncertain, I 
must make a trial for 3 or 4 years, yt I may answer with a clear 
Conscience before Almighty God. My obligations from without 
are considerable, but much greater from within. I submit it 
wholly to your Excellency, whose direction and advice I esteem 

Fourteenth Annual Report. 293 

infinitely preferable to my own; also for whose unreserved kind- 
ness and condesention I desire to renew most humble thanks. 

That Success & Prosperity may crown all your Excellency's 
undertaking's is ye sincere wish of him who is with greatest 

Your Excellency's most obedient & obliged humble servant 


P. S. I shall go down by water with one or two Indians who 
have invited me to go with them for sake of learning ye language. 

I have not, nor shall I acquaint them yt I have any thoughts of 
getting provision up here." 

Mr. Kirtland's special friend and main support at Kanadesaga 
was Tekanada. In a letter to Sir William Johnson dated Feb. IS, 
1766, Mr. Kirtland quotes Tekanada's request for permission to 
accompany his braves on a war expedition against the Cherokees. 
Following is the substance of Tekanada's message to Sir William 
as written by Mr. Kirtland : 

" I return you many thanks for your friendly encouraging 
words last fall — they buried almost all my sorrow & gave me as 
it were new life. I keep you continually in my mind. I again 
return most hearty thanks for your Remembrance of me. I desire 
you wou'd consider ye present disposition & intention of my war- 
riors to visit ye old Enemies ye Cherokee. You are well acquainted 
with our Ancient Customs & Traditions, yt ye late breach in my 
family cant be fully made up in any other way.* I know not wt. 
your present stores are, nor how you are disposed toward these 
things. I ask only this yt you would take it into consideration. 
You are doubtless sensible it is hard for me to see all my Notes (?) 
pass me on this Business, & I being alone perhaps shall set down 
& weep with my miserable Condition. But if my Warreours go 
I'll be contented to tarry. Your encouraging word & strict charge 
last fall shall support me & be continually in my mind." 

The record does not show whether Tekanada w T as permitted to 
go on the war path with his brethren and thus secure a new wife 

* This is evidently an allusion to the recent death of Tekanada's wife, and 
to the custom which prevailed among the Iroquois, from the foundation of the 
Confederacy, to fill a family vacancy caused by death by the adoption of a 

294 American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society. 

by the ancient custom of capture, or whether he assuaged his grief 
with the charms of some Seneca belle of Kanadesaga. In any 
event, his name may well be preserved as a friendly Indian who 
helped Mr. Kirtland in his civilizing work. 

The primitive conditions at Kanadesaga and the difficulty of 
reckoning dates are indicated by the manner in which Mr. Kirt- 
land dated the letter from which the foregoing extract about 
Tekanada is taken. He dates it " Kaunaudasage Feby 18, 1766 
if I dont mistake," and then adds the following significant post- 
script : " I beg ye favour of an Almanack if your Honor has a 
supply. I fear I shall forget ye Sabbaths & perhaps new moons, & 
become a Savage indeed." 

In the spring of 1766, Mr. Kirtland returned east with his 
faithful friend Tekanada, arriving at Lebanon, Conn., on the 19th 
of May. When passing through Hartford they were received by 
the General Assembly, then in session; and Tekanada, with Mr. 
Kirtland as interpreter, made a reply which excited the admira- 
tion of the entire body. 

Kanadesaga in the American Revolution. 

Upon the outbreak of the American Revolution, the people of 
Kanadesaga, as indeed all of the Iroquois Indians, found them- 
selves in a predicament. For over a century they had recognized 
the British government and its Colonial representatives as their 
allies against the French. Now, they were called upon to take 
sides in a war between two branches of their white allies. It was 
difficult enough for many white men, with their more advanced 
civilization, their more highly developed consciences and their 
better knowledge of the principles involved, to decide which side 
to take; it was more difficult for the comparatively untutored red- 
man. Early in the struggle, Washington took measures to secure 
the friendship of the Iroquois to the American cause, and suc- 
ceeded in gaining over the Tuscaroras and Oneidas; but it is not 
surprising that the Senecas, who so long had been under the 

Fourteenth Annual Report. 295 

influence of Sir William Johnson and the direct official representa- 
tives of the British government, and who were geographically 
located so near to the important British base of operations at Fort 
Niagara, sympathized with the British cause. 

Further to strengthen their hold on the Senecas, the British, 
with shrewd foresight, early in the war erected a few buildings 
between Kanadesaga and the outlet of the lake, which came to be 
known as Butler's Buildings, from the fact that they were fre- 
quently the headquarters of Col. John Butler, commander of 
Butler's Bangers. These buildings, only two or three in number, 
one of them quite large, were near the northwest corner of Seneca 
lake near the original outlet.* Butler's Buildings were erected as 
a residence for Col. John and Capt. Walter Butler and as barracks 
for their soldiers when in that country. It was a rallying place 
for the Bangers and Indians when assembling for a raid on the 
frontiers. It was also a depot for supplies, the Indian corn fields 
of Kanadesaga furnishing large quantities of subsistence for the 
British armies. 

In 1778, from Kanadesaga as a base, the British and their 
Indian allies set out to perpetrate two of the most famous — or, 
rather, infamous — massacres in the history of the war, namely, 
those at Wyoming, Pa., July 1-4, and Cherry Valley, 1ST. Y., 
November 11. 

The expedition to Wyoming, which rendezvoused at Kanadesaga, 
was commanded by Col. John Butler and consisted of a detach- 
ment of Sir John Johnson's Royal Greens and Butler's Rangers 
numbering about 300, and 500 Indians. The latter were chiefly 

* Benjamin Lodge, the surveyor who accompanied Gen. Sullivan on his 
march into the Seneca country in 1779, surveyed the entire route. His original 
maps, known as the DeWitt-Erskine maps, are in the archives of the New 
York Historical Society. Erskine was the geographer under whose direction 
the survey was made. Upon his death he was succeeded by Simeon DeWitt. 
Map " No. 96 E — to the outlet of Seneca Lake," has the route laid down at 
the foot of the lake, and at a point noted at the northwest corner of the lake 
is marked " Tory Butler's Quarters." 

296 American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society. 

Senecas, with a few Mohawks and a band of Onondagas. One of 
Butler's Rangers, Lieut. Adam Crysler, kept a diary, in which he 

" In May, 1778, I received Col. Butler's orders to come to 
Canatasaga. Accordingly I did and brought 19 men with me (who 
are with Col. Butler at present) at which time he made me a 
Lieutenant; and from there I went under command of Col. Butler 
to Wayomen where we had an engagement and killed about 460 of 
the enemy, and from thence we went to Aughquagy."* 

The summer of 1778 was one of great excitement among the 
Indians at Kanadesaga. The noted Seneca Chief Big Tree had 
made a visit to Washington and to him had professed great friend- 
ship for the American cause. After promising the American 
commander-in-chief his aid and assistance, he started for home, 
and in passing through the country of the friendly Oneidas ex- 
pressed great confidence in his ability to influence his people to 
unite with the Americans. He told the Oneidas that if he could 
not induce all of his people to that course, he would return to the 
Oneidas with as many adherents as he could bring. The Oneidas, 
not hearing from Big Tree as soon as they expected, despatched 
an emissary to Kanadesaga to find out what was the matter. 
Arriving in the Seneca country, he found the Senecas all in arms, 
and the two villages " Kanadaseago and Jennessee " crowded with 
warriors from the remotest settlements. 

The trouble was, that during the slow negotiations with the 
Senecas, the Americans, aroused by the depredations on the 
frontiers, had begun to consider the advisability of invading the 
Seneca country and chastising the Indians for their bloody work. 
Rumors of these plans having reached the Senecas after Big 
Tree's return, their friendship for the Americans (if they really 
had any after such close neighborhood with Butler's men) was 

* Oquago. or Oghquago (now Windsor, Broome county, N. Y.), a favorite 
seat of the Oneidas. 

Fourteenth Annual Repobt. 297 

turned to resentment, and Big Tree and his warriors new to arms 
to resist the enemy that dared to penetrate their country. 

The plan for securing the friendship of the Seneeas thus mis- 
carried, and under the malignant influence of the Butlers, new 
deviltry was soon hatched among them. On October 23, 1778, 
about 500 of them started out from Kanadesaga and joined the 
forces under Capt. Walter Butler and the Indian chief Brant in 
their raid on Cherry Valley ISTovember 11. The leader of the 
Seneeas was Sayenqueraghta of Kanadesaga. Lieut. Crysler of 
Butler's Bangers, who had been engaged in some marauding expe- 
ditions in Otsego county and at German Flats during the autumn, 
was with Butler's forces, returning with them to Niagara in De- 
cember. Their line of retreat brought them from Elmira up the 
eastern side of Seneca lake, and around the foot of the lake to 
Kanadesaga, where they arrived about the last of aSTovember. 
Here, all the captive children and infants were separated from 
their parents and given into different Indian families for adoption. 
Here the wife of Col. Samuel Campbell was left in captivity. Her 
children were taken away from her and she, according to the 
Indian custom before mentioned, was given to a family to fill a 
vacancy caused by the death of one of its members. 

In the spring of 1779 Col. Butler came to Kanadesaga to confer 
with the Indians about exchanging the prisoners they held for 
Mrs. Butler* and her family who were held within the American 
lines. The Indians held a council lasting several days, at the 
conclusion of which they yielded to Butler's earnest persuasions. 
Mrs. Campbell was thereupon sent to iSTiagara, arriving in June. 
In the spring of 1779 Lieut. Crysler went to Kanadesaga again 
under command of the Tory Col. Butler, and from that point- 
participated in forays upon the frontier settlements. One of these 
expeditions consisted of 100 rangers and 200 Seneca Indians under 
command of Capt. McDonald, which attacked Freeland's Fort on 

* His mother, or wife. The record is not clear which. 

298 American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society. 

the west branch of the Susquehanna river in July. According to 
Crysler's account, they killed forty men and took thirty prisoners. 
With the latter, the British and Indians returned to Col. Butler at 
Kanadesaga. Leaving their captives at the Seneca capital, the 
combined force marched south to Chemung; but here they en- 
countered Sullivan's army of retribution and here the tide of 

fortune turned. 

The Annihilation of Kanadesaga. 

The barbarities of the British with their Indian allies led Con- 
gress to authorize Washington to send an army into the Iroquois 
country, with a view to reducing their numbers, destroying their 
resources, and exterminating the Tory nest at Fort Niagara which 
was the chief base of their operations. Having failed to win the 
Indians by friendly overtures early in the war, it was planned to 
bring upon them such a terrible retribution as should put it beyond 
their power further to harm the frontier towns. The expedition 
was planned in two divisions — one under Gen. James Clinton 
and the other under Gen. John Sullivan. Sullivan's headquarters 
were at Easton, Penn. Thence he started on his famous march, 
sometimes called Sullivan's Raid, June 18, 1779. He was joined 
at Tioga, N. Y., on August 22d by Clinton, who, in the meantime, 
had invaded the Onondaga country and laid waste the villages 
near Onondaga lake. Leaving Tioga August 26, they arrived at 
Newtown (Elmira) where, on Sunday, August 29, they met and 
defeated a formidable force of British regulars and Indians under 
the command of Col. John Butler, Capt. Walter Butler, Capt. 
McDonald, and the Indian chief Brant. 

On August 30, the army remained on the ground, destroying 
the Indian corn and on the 31st resumed the march northward, 
along the east shore of Seneca lake. On Monday, September 6, 
they camped between Appletown and the foot of the lake. 

At 8 o'clock on the morning of the 7th, the army struck its tents 
and reached the foot of the lake about 2 p. m. Here, apprehending 
some opposition, a halt was made for a reconnoissance, but no 

Fourteenth Annual Beport. 299 

enemy was found. The march was then resumed, the army keep- 
ing dose to the lake on account of a marsh on their right. Coming 
to the outlet,* they forded it, the water reaching from their knees 
to their waists and the river heing from twenty to thirty yards 

The crossing of the outlet by Sullivan's army of 2,500 or 3,000 
soldiers, with their packhorses loaded with camp impediments and 
supplies, with their droves of cattle and with their five pieces of 
artillery — four brass three-pounders and one small howitzer — 
presented a picturesque scene worthy of an artist's canvas. A 
short distance from the outlet near the northwestern extremity 
of the lake, they came to Butler's buildings, but found them 
deserted. After destroying these structures and the adjacent corn 
field, the army proceeded to Kanadesaga Castle, where they 
arrived about dusk. They found the town completely deserted by 
the Indians, who had evidently left not more than a day or two 
before, for the soldiers found in the village a little white boy, 
about four years old, entirely naked and almost starved, but still 
alive, f 

Arrived at the village, some of the soldiers busied themselves 
with unpacking the horses and tethering them ; others with corral- 
ling the cattle; others with erecting their tents for the night; and 
the artillerymen with planting their five cannon at eligible points 
for the protection of the camp. Meanwhile, some of the fragile 
cabins of the natives were pulled down for firewood, and soon the 
campfires were glowing in the gathering gloom and the camp- 
kettles were boiling with the evening meal. 

* The original outlet was about half a mile west of the present outlet of 
Seneca Lake. The latter was made at an early day by the Seneca Lock 
Navigation Co. 

t This child, belonging to some unfortunate captive, was adopted by Capt. 
Machin, of the artillery, given the name of Thomas Machin, and tenderly 
cared for. Upon the return of the army, the boy was placed with a family in 
Kingston, N. Y., where he died of small-pox about two years later. His parents 
were never found. 

300 American Scenic and Histoeic Preservation Society. 

Lieut. Beatty records : " This town is the chief town* of the 
Seneca nation. It lies about one and one-half miles from the 
lake * * * on a pretty level spot, but no good stream of water 
near it — only one small brook running through it which affords 
but very little water. There is about seventy or eighty houses in 
it and built very compact and the chief of the houses very good. 
Likewise I heard there was two or three old blockhouses but I did 
not see them as it was dark when we came in." 

When morning dawned on the 8th and the men obtained their 
first clear view of the place, they found the deserted village center- 
ing around a large green plot on which the stockade had been built 
in 1756, but the fortification itself was practically in ruins. In 
the houses they found bear skins, deer skins, Indian trinkets, and 
quantities of corn and vegetables. Several horses and cows were 
discovered and captured. During the day, the main army devoted 
itself to demolishing the buildings, girdling the trees in the 
orchards, cutting and burning the standing corn, destroying the 
vegetables, and devastating the village generally; while two de- 
tachments under Major Poor and Col. John Harper made side 
excursions to neighboring Indian settlements on a like mission. 

After the day's work was done, the men cleaned their pieces 
and made ready for the next day's march ; but whether they should 
march to the westward or eastward was a question with Gen. Sul- 
livan. He was very anxious to reach Fort Niagara and extirpate 
that Tory plague spot ; but a shortage of supplies counseled dis- 
cretion. His supply of flour was reduced on account of the failure 
of his pack horses and his supply of beef was short on account of 
the loss of several head of cattle in the creeks and ravines across 
and through which they had marched. For a long time the men 
had had meat onlv twice in three days and bread onlv once in four 
days, their subsistence having been almost entirely on corn and 

* Lieut. -Col. Henry Dearborn says that it is " a large town called Kannad- 
segea, which is considered as the capital of the Senecas and is 1 called Seneca 
Castle." These and numerous other like references to Kanadesaga leave no 
doubt of its capital importance. 

Fourteenth Annual Eepokt. 301 

beans secured in the Indian country. After conferring with his 
officers, however, he determined to push on as far as Genesee, 
which he regarded as the key to the Indian country. He therefore 
sent the sick and lame back to Tioga and gave orders to inarch for 
Genesee the next morning. 

That night it rained, delaying the start on the 9th ; but about 
noon on the latter date, after having destroyed every edible which 
the men, horses and cattle could not eat, the army resumed its 
march westward and proceeded as far west as Genesee Castle, 
which was located on the west side of the Genesee river near 
Cuylerville, Livingston county. Here they arrived September 14. 
After destroying the town and crops, the army began its counter- 
march on the 15th. At sunset on Sunday, the 19th, they arrived 
again at Kanadesaga and pitched their tents. On Monday, the 
20th, at 2 o'clock in the afternoon, they struck their tents and an 
hour later marched off, crossed the outlet, and at sunset camped 
near the lake. 

" Previous to our march from Canadasago," «ays Lieut. Har- 
denbergh, under date of Monday, " Col. Butler of the 4th Pennsyl- 
vania Regiment was sent with a detachment to the Kiyuga lake 
to destroy some Indian settlements that were there," and " Col. 
Gansevort (was) sent with 100 men to Fort Stanwix (Rome) in 
order to send down some baggage which was left on the Mohawk 
river by troops that had been stationed there the preceding year." 
Sullivan's terrible expedition into the Iroquois country had its 
expected effect. The misery and demoralization of the Indians 
was complete ; the power of the Iroquois Confederacy was broken ; 
and the western door of the Long House was rent from its fasten- 

After this tragic event, a few Indians returned to Kanadesaga, 
just enough to keep it in existence in history for several years 
more ; but no concerted effort was made to rebuild the village. In 
the course of time, sprouts from the old apple trees grew up and 
bore fruit, and a few of their descendants still give evidence of the 

302 American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society. 

ancestral orchards which flourished in the palmy days of Kana- 

In its diminished state, Kanadesaga continued to be a land- 
mark during the remaining years of the war. On May 14, 1780, 
a party of Indians arrived here with prisoners captured at Weiss- 
port, Pa., April 25. These captives included Benjamin Gilbert, 
Sr., his wife Elizabeth, their son Jesse; Jesse's son Abner and 
daughters Rebecca and Elizabeth; Abigail Dodson, aged 14; 
Benjamin Peart, his wife Elizabeth and their infant. Here the 
Indians painted Benjamin Gilbert, Sr., black, which caused the 
captives much alarm as they believed that he was to be killed. 
While staying at this place they were visited by a British soldier 
and another white man, en route to Niagara and Montreal. In 
the course of time, the captives were taken on to Niagara, where 
they found four of their relatives who had been taken there by 
another route. 

During the next four years, many other incidents like this 
occurred at Kanadesaga. At length, on October 22, 1784, a treaty 
of peace was made between the United States and the Six Nations; 
hostilities came to an end; and soon the white man's civilization 
took the places of the red man's villages and castles, cornfields and 

The Passing of the Indian's Ownership. 

After the Revolutionary war, Massachusetts claimed a large 
share of the territory of western New York under grants from 
Great Britain. On December 16, 178 G, the commissioners of the 
two states agreed upon a settlement, by which Massachusetts ceded 
to New York the right of sovereignty and government, but New 
York ceded to Massachusetts the right of pre-emption of the soil 
from the Indians to 230,400 acres between the Owego and Che- 
nango rivers, and also to all the lands in New York west of a 
line " beginning in the north boundary line of the State of Penn- 
sylvania in the parallel of 42 degrees north latitude at a point 

Fourteenth Annual Report. 303 

distant 82 miles west from the northeast corner of the State of 
Pennsylvania on Delaware river * * * and from said point of 
beginning running on a due meridian north to the boundary line 
between the United States of America and the King of Great 
Britain," except one mile in width along the Niagara river. 

This settlement was quickly followed by the efforts of enter- 
prising gentlemen to secure possession of the Indian lands. One 
influential group of speculators was known as the Genesee Land 
Company. At its instigation, a council was held at Kanadesaga 
on November 30, 1787, at which the sachems of the Six Nations 
leased to the Land Company for 999 years a vast region compris- 
ing all of New York State west of Canada Creek at a rental of 
$2,000 a year. This treaty was signed by forty-six Indian chiefs, 
including the famous Cornplanter. 

The Genesee Land Company, however, had two strong rivals in 
Oliver Phelps and Nathaniel Gorham, who, at a council held at 
Buffalo Creek on July 8, 1788, secured a modification of the long 
lease, by which Phelps and Gorham secured the lease of all that 
portion comprising the Massachusetts pre-emption rights. For 
this privilege they agreed to pay Massachusetts a fair compensa- 
tion and to the Indians $1,000 a year. This latter sum was pay- 
able in cattle to be delivered to the Indians at Kanadesaga. 

About July 13 or 14, another council was held at Kanadesaga, 
at which the Rev. Mr. Kirtland, acting as Commissioner for 
Massachusetts in the above transaction, proclaimed the treaty. 
Over eighty warriors were present on this occasion. 

The limitations of this paper will not permit us to enter into 
all the intricacies of the ensuing real estate transactions, but it is 
our purpose to relate enough to explain the origin of an interest- 
ing landmark at Geneva connected with the passing of Indian 
ownership, namely, the " Old Pre-emption Road." 

In 1788, Col. Hugh Maxwell, a civil engineer, was engaged to 
survey the Massachusetts pre-emption line from the Pennsylvania 

304 American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society. 

boundary to Lake Ontario, but owing to magnetic deviation of 
the compass or to some other cause bis line diverged to the west- 
ward of the true meridian until, when it reached the lake, it was 
about two and one-half miles out of the way. This line is in- 
dicated by what is called the Old Pre-emption Road. It runs 
directly through the site of Kanadesaga. Later the true line was 
determined, and the area between the old and new pre-emption 
Lnes in which lies the present city of Geneva is called the 
" Gore." 

The Beginnings of Geneva. 

About the year 17S8, the name of Kanadesaga was superseded 
by the imported European name of Geneva, but probably not in 
pursuance of the plan of the Commissioners of the Land Office* 
who were authorized by an act of the Legislature passed in 1786, 
to lay out the Military Tract and " designate every township to 
be laid out by such name as they shall deem proper," and who 
with a lamentable lack of appreciation of the beauty and signifi- 
cance of Indian nomenclature proceeded to sprinkle the Iroquois 
country with a host of classical names as foreign in propriety as 
they were in the source from which they were taken. 

From the journal of a traveler who went from Albany to 
Niagara in 1792, we catch a glimpse of infant Geneva as she ap- 
peared near the end of the eighteenth century. He says: 

'' Twelve miles west of Cayuga I struck the Canadesaga Lake 
— no inhabitant upon this road. This lake is the handsomest piece 
of water I ever beheld; its length and breadth nearly that of 
Cayuga into which it empties. Upon a pretty slope on the new 
part of the lake stands a town called Geneva. It has a fine effect 
from the opposite shore but disappoints you when you arrive at 
lr - It consists of about twenty lop- houses, three or four frame 
buildings, and as many idle persons as can live in them. Eighteen 
miles lower on the same lake stands the Friends' Settlement 

The Commissioners were Governor George Clinton, Secretary Lewis A. 
Scott, Attorney-General Egbert Benson, and Treasurer Gerard Bancker. 
Simeon DeYVitt was State Engineer at the time. 




S A- N U Ml- DA- 5 A- SA 


ZOO 100 4 00 

,V0is. £3-/3QQ. 

Map of survey made for the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society showing the exact location of the site of 
the Seneca Castle, of the existing Burial Mound and of the existing Council Tree of Kanadesaga {or Ga-npx-da-na-ga), at 
Gioneva, N. Y. 

Fourteenth Annual Report. 305 

founded by Jemima Wilkinson. There are eighty families in it. 
Each has a fine farm and are quiet, moral and industrious people." 

Between 1797 and 1799, the old Indian trail had been converted 
into a coach road, so that a stage coach starting from Fort Schuy- 
ler (Rome) on September 30, 1799, arrived at Geneva in the 
afternoon of the third day with four passengers. During the 
winter of 1798-99, two stages, one of them a mail stage, ran from 
Geneva and Canandaigua to Albany weekly. A writer in 1799 
says : 

" Very few places of the size now exceed Geneva, either as to 
the style of the buildings, the beauty of the adjoining country or 
valuable improvements. The number of sail boats have greatly 
increased on the lake and the sloop finds constant employment; 
and in addition to their comforts, a person from Scotland has 
established at Geneva a very respectable brewery which promises to 
destroy in the neighborhood the baneful use of spirituous liquors. 
The apple and peach orchards left by the Indians yield every year 
abundance of fruit for the use of the inhabitants, besides making 
considerable cyder ; so much so that one farmer near Geneva 
sold cyder this year to the amount of $1,200." 

The temptation to follow the development of Geneva, from 
these small beginnings, to the beautiful, cultured and industrious 
village of to-day must be resisted both for lack of space and as 
being beyond the purpose of this paper ; and in conclusion we 
must content ourselves with a brief glance at three interesting 
sites connected with the history of Kanadesaga — the place of 
the old Fort, the Burial Mound, and the Council Tree. 

The Last Traces of the Old Fort. 
In the autumn of 1848, the eminent archaeologist E. G. Squier 
made an investigation of the Indian town sites of New York, 
under the auspices of the New York Historical Society and the 
Smithsonian Institution. The results of his investigations were 
published in the second volume of the Smithsonian Institution's 
" Contributions to Knowledge," and in 1851 were republished by 

306 American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society. 

Mr. Squier under the title "Antiquities of the State of New York." 
On page 85 is a sketch of the palisade work and the Burial Mound 
at E^m.desagi. The following is what Mr. Squier says: 

" The traces of this palisaded work are very distinct and the 
outline may be followed with the greatest ease. Its preservation 
is evidently due to the circumstance that at the time of the cession 
of their lands at this point, the Senecas made it a special condition 
that this spot should never be brought under cultivation. i Here/ 
said they, ' sleep our fathers, and they cannot rest well if they 
hear the plough of the white man above them.' The stipulation 
of the purchasers has been religiously observed. 

" The site of this ancient palisade slopes gently toward a little 
stream called Ganundasaga creek which supplied the occupants of 
the fort with water. The ground is covered with a close green 
sward, and some of the apple trees planted by the Indians are still 
flourishing. In form, the work was nearly rectangular, having 
small bastions at the northwestern and southeastern angles. At 
' a ' and ' b ' * are small heaps of stones bearing traces of exposure 
to fire, which are probably the remains of forges or fireplaces. 
The holes formed by the decay of pickets are now about a foot 
deep. A fragment of one of the pickets was removed by Mr. L. H. 
Morgan of Rochester, in 1847, and is now in the State Cabinet at 
Albany. It is of oak." 

To-day, not a vestige of the old stockade remains. 

The Burial Mound. 

At the time of Sullivan's march, in 1779, Capt. Daniel Liver- 
more noted in his diary, concerning Kanadesaga : " Here is a 
large burying place with several large monuments raised over some 
of their chiefs." This is the earliest allusion we have found to 
the Burial Mound which still exists about 350 feet north of the site 
of the fort. When Lewis H. Morgan visited the place in 1845, the 
mound was about 100 paces in circumference. When Squier 
visited it in 1848, it was about six feet high and covered with 
depressions marking the graves of the dead. " It would be in- 

* In the northwest and northeast corners, respectively. 

Fourteenth Annual Report. 307 

teresting," he said, " for a variety of reasons to have this mound 
excavated. By whatever people erected, it is certain that it was 
extensively used by the Senecas for purposes of burial." 
Morgan, in his " League of the Iroquois " says : 

" There is an interesting tradition connected with this burial 
mound. The Senecas say that once they had a protector, a mighty 
giant, taller than the tallest trees, who split the largest hickory 
for his bow, and used pine trees for his arrows. He once wandered 
west to the Mississippi and from thence east again to the sea. Re- 
turning homeward over the mountains along the Hudson, he saw a 
great bird on the water flapping its wings as if it wished to get 
out, so he waded in and lifted it on the land. He then saw on it 
a number of men who appeared dreadfully frightened and made 
signs to him to put them back again. He did so and they gave 
him a sword and a musket with powder and balls and showed him 
how to use them, after which the bird swam off and he saw it no 
more. Having returned to the Senecas at Ganundasaga he ex- 
hibited to them the wonderful implements of destruction and 
fired the gun before them. They were exceedingly terrified at 
the report and reproached him for bringing such terrible things 
among them and told him to take them away again, for they would 
be the destruction of the Indians, and he was an enemy to their 
nation who had brought them there. Much grieved at their re- 
proaches, he left the council, taking the dreadful weapons with 
him, and lay down in a field. The next morning he was found, 
from some mysterious cause, dead, and this mound was raised 
over his body where he lay. It is averred by the Onondagas that 
if the mound should be opened a skeleton of supernatural size 
would be found underneath." 

It is fortunate that the temptation experienced by Squier and 
some other more recent archaeologists has been resisted and that 
the mound has remained undisturbed, except on a single occasion 
when some unauthorized person made an opening and took out 
four skulls. The proceeding was witnessed, however, by the 
owner of the property, Mr. Wm. A. Smith, who reburied the skulls 
in the mound. 

For many years, Indians were accustomed to visit this mound 
and stand bv its side, in silent meditation. The last visit of this 

308 American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society. 

sort occurred about four years ago. Beaten by the elements, and 
unprotected by any fence, the mound has been reduced in size until 
at the present time it is only 194 feet in circumference. 

In 1889 the Legislature passed a bill appropriating $750 for 
the purchase by the State of three acres containing the mound and 
$250 for fencing and improvement, and placing it in the custody 
of the New York Agricultural Experiment Station but it failed 
to receive the Governor's signature. It is sincerely hoped that 
means may be found properly to conserve this sacred landmark 
of the old inhabitants of Kanadesaga. 

The Kanadesaga Council Tree. 

About 2,550 feet northeast of the Burial Mound on the extensive 
farm of Mr. Henry H. Loomis, stands another landmark of the 
Senecas — a patriarchal elm known as the Council Tree. This 
magnificent tree, measuring 25 feet in the circumference of its 
trunk and 127 feet in the spread of its branches, marks the tra- 
ditional meeting place of the Senecas when their deliberations 
were held out of doors. Under its branches, presumably, were 
negotiated several of the treaties affecting the destinies of Western 
New York. 

This is one of several famous trees in New York State, most of 
which have disappeared, including the Big Tree which formerly 
stood near Geneseo and the Treaty Oak which formerly stood in 
Pelham Bay Park, New York city. 

Prom the use of trees for shelter, not only at ordinary times, but 
also at times of councils, they came to occupy a conspicuous place 
in the figures of speech employed by the Indians and by white 
men in their speeches to the Indians. For instance, on September 
21, 1753, Col. Wm. Johnson, in addressing the representatives of 
the Six Nations at Onondaga, said: " I am sorry to find on my 
arrival among you that the fine Shady Tree which was planted 
by your forefathers for your ease and shelter should be now lean- 
ing, being almost blown down by Northerly Winds." This was 

.Fourteenth Annual Report. 309 

an allusion to the covenant of friendship between the Iroquois and 
the English which had been strained severely by the intrigues of 
the French in Canada. Again he said to them : " Tour fire now 
burns clearly at the old place. The Tree of shelter and protection 
is set up and flourishes." 

There is so much of poetry, tradition, and history, associated 
wth the Kanadesaga Council Tree that for these reasons, as well 
as for its natural beauty, it is greatly desired that means may be 
found for its protection and special care. In the course of years 
it must inevitably disappear, but with the modern science of tree 
surgery and prophylaxis, there is no reason why it should not be 
preserved for generations, a delight to the eye, and a living re- 
minder of the vanished race which once populated the fertile fields 
of Kanadesaga.